Boston, MA (January 29, 2013) – Ethos, southwest Boston’s principal elder care resource, today called on Governor Patrick and the state Legislature to end the waitlist for almost 1,000 frail, homebound elders seeking help to remain in their own homes.
“For some seniors, waiting for Home Care is like dialing 911 and getting a busy signal,” said Dale Mitchell, Ethos Executive Director. He pointed to Lester Kenner, a 101 year-old West Roxbury resident, as a prime example of this injustice. Mr. Kenner lives with his daughter Carole, his main caregiver. However, she must work full-time and leave Mr. Kenner alone during the day. Because he has a history of falls and recently underwent triple bypass surgery, this lapse in care has become a source of great anxiety for both him and his daughter. “This is not the way we treat 101 year olds,” stated Mr. Mitchell.
Mitchell noted that, under the rules of the state Home Care program, Mr. Kenner would be eligible for a variety of services like trips to the doctor so Carole doesn’t have to take off from work, home delivered lunches for when Carole is at work and a weekend companion so that Carole can run errands without worrying Lester has fallen. However, because of inadequate program funding, Mr. Kenner is unable to actually receive these services. “Unfortunately, we cannot even tell Mr. Kenner how long his wait will be,” Mitchell added, noting that the Governor’s recently released FY14 budget proposal offered no relief for his plight.
Mitchell said that Carole, Mr. Kenner’s daughter, is reflective of millions of Americans who provide unpaid assistance to help disabled loved ones remain in their own homes. “They provide a benefit for all of us, because they are preventing an otherwise expensive, taxpayer-funded nursing home stay.” However, he noted that the burden of caregiving can be heavy. “It’s work people need a break from. Otherwise, they burn out.” Unfortunately, he said, inadequate state funding for Home Care is preventing Carole, as well as her father, from getting what she needs.
Mitchell noted that Mr. Kenner’s story is not unique. “Waiting lists have become a chronic condition in the elderly Home Care program,” said Mitchell. “I hope the Legislature steps up to the plate and does what the Governor wouldn’t. Please end the wait list for Home Care!”